Challenges with Border Guards - RE the Laws

@WeBeNomadic it is much better and safer to say you are visiting friends/family or are there for tourism. Give your hosts address if they ask for one and say they are ‘friends’. Warn the host in advance so they can back up your story if needed. Hopefully by the time of the sit you’ve had enough contact to be ‘almost friends’! So its not a lie (if that matters to you!:joy:) And usually nobody will follow up anyway.
Volunteering is treated almost the same as paid work! Don’t risk telling them the truth! You’ll just make unnecessary trouble for yourself! A little bending of the truth is all that’s needed! :star_struck:

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I had the worst experience Dec 21 2023 trying to get out for a new sit from YOW to Tampa. Being honest, got me flagged this time round and the most stressful situation. Even though not banned, the more I dig, seems I need to apply for a Waiver that will be costly especially through a lawyer to expedite and the time frame to have this done! If I don’t do this, could cause me more issues next time and a ban. Got FP and photoed, treated as a criminal . I am a young retiree, but this certainly screwed my plans in the future to possibly buy or rent longer a place out in Florida. Very stressful and good thing the homeowner had plan B as he was driving to another State, so he took his dog with him. This is not legal and confirmed by US CBP this is work to them, all about money and revenue for Governments! Yet open border in other cases!! THS needs to correct statements and remove these letters, not legal binding or applicable to the US INA legislation

@BevD, trying to understand why they stopped you. Did you tell them you were pet sitting and show them those THS letters? (Most experienced sitters would say to avoid doing either.)

Yes, I had shown this letter suggested by THS that is sent before each sit. I had no issues 2 x prior going through YYZ. This time going through YOW for a direct flight, when I identified with the letter. This got me sent to secondary. I had thought these letters were cleared through THS with US IMM officials. These should not be sent to the sitter or posted. This service non monetary is considered work! Even if you state vacation only, if you get caught in the fib, could be worse. As I worked for the Feds formerly, had a harder time to fib about this. But to protect sitters, the correct documentation needs to be supported to prevent these issues. I now as a retiree will have great difficulty to enjoy my retirement as I was planning to rent longer or purchase a property in Florida someday.

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Have you contacted Member Services as suggested on the web pages containing the various letters relating to border controls? As far as I can see from the website the letters have been reviewed by a lawyer in each of the countries but not directly with immigration officials and THS need to know the difficulties they are presenting. Of course the other problem is that even if letters had been cleared with US immigration the individual immigration officers on the desks do not always know about (or misinterpret) guidelines.

I certainly would never show one of these letters as they contradict some of THS’s own advertising which in the past year has on occasion included the word ‘jobs’ when seeking to attract new sitter members - very misleading in my view. I realise it may be too late for you to be able to recover your situation which is hugely disappointing for you but I do hope that you get some support from THS and that they understand the impact these letters (drafted in good faith I’m sure) are having.

There’s no THS documentation that would help sitters, because various countries don’t want people coming from elsewhere to pet sit, whether paid or unpaid. THS does sitters and hosts a disservice by posting those letters, as if they’d be helpful, when they’re actually potentially incriminating.

It’s best for sitters to say they’re tourists, doing sightseeing and/or visiting friends. If you’re not comfortable with that, it might be better to not sit abroad, unless you’re willing to risk trouble at borders, including immediately being sent back home and/or having a black mark on your records, which might prevent you from entering a country again, even for legit purposes.

I have been following the saga of “the letters” through various threads here and other places, and even sometimes stories in the press. Many people have brought this to THS’s attention. My suggestion would be speaking to someone in member services and doing what you can to move this up the chain, as your first reply could well be a bot. This is an issue that can create a real lasting problem for sitters in their future ability to travel. It also costs them money for airfare wasted. It creates an immediate problem for HOs who find at the last minute their sitter isn’t going to show up because they were literally deported. It can endanger pets when HOs leave because the last message from the sitter is , “I’m on the plane. Will be there in 8 hours!” I cannot for the life of me understand why the letters are still there. Clearly, if you and other people believe the letters are somehow official then they are misleading.

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THS knows this very well. Especially the US letter is not worth the paper it is written on. The lawyer does not even give their name!

It is a disgrace that THS still keeps sending this information.

Yes I have, they stick to consultation from their US IMM lawyers. I mentioned the US CBP is stating they are flagging these more in other States and there is no legal binding in these letters nor state the INA legislation to exempt under this law. I do not have luxury of time to solve this or huge funds as a retiree, What a mess for my future retirement. This leaves the sitters holding the bag of problems

The letters are a can of worms. Do not use them. Just say you’re a tourist and keep it simple. Especially coming into the USA and other tricky borders.

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Tangentially, as THS tries to grow across countries and gains members, members run the risk of attracting more border scrutiny. And THS itself will as well. That’s because they’re a for-profit business sending people to do sits that various countries don’t want. When a company is small, it can fly under the radar better. The larger it grows, the more scrutiny it draws, and that’s agnostic of THS.

Should THS end up pursuing an IPO, depending on which stock exchange it might try to list on, they’d have to declare to regulators what the business risks are. This issue — countries not allowing sitting across borders — would be a major risk that could suddenly evaporate shareholder value.

THS would have to convince various countries to change laws and regulations if they want to do everything aboveboard. And that seems unlikely to work, because countries don’t typically change their border laws for one company.


Hello, @BevD I’m really sorry to hear that happened, how stressful for you! I can see that you are working with the Membership Services team, so I’m glad that you are getting some help with this.

For members reading this thread and wanting to know more about the letters here is the link to the relevant page.

I had a quick look and can see it mentioned: It’s important to recognize that there is always a risk when traveling abroad, and these letters do not guarantee entry to a country.

There has been some valuable feedback about the letters which I have made sure to pass on to the relevant team, also please feel free to reach out to Membership Services to share feedback and ask any specific questions. I hope that helps!

Yes, I should of all people read and researched this careful, I was in the Feds yet IT. IRPA is on our section of our laws. Got caught up in this, my heart in the right place after loosing a n 18 yr old dog. Thought this was a great thing, now a mess and costly one !

I certainly feel foolish, as I should have researched and read more closely working with the Feds in the past. Showing this letter is certainly a flag to the Border and does not comply with the Immigration Acts. I have a very costly and lengthy problem now in my early retirement to ever enjoy my time back in the Southern US. Luckily my new sit, the homeowner was driving and able to take his dog as Plan B.

Don’t blame yourself for this!

Edited to meet posting guidelines

I agree Carla that the web page does make the point that they are no guarantee of entry to certain countries. Therefore I cannot see any reason whatsoever for the letters to be available as they seem to serve no purpose other than to put people at risk of what has happened to @BevD and others. Perhaps you could feed this back to the team as well please?


Hello @LizBCN I am more than happy to add that feedback as well :smiling_face:

I’m sorry this happened to you Bev. You aren’t the only one this has happened to. Hindsight is 20/20. You trusted the company. You trusted the letter. In other contexts, trust is a good thing! But you do need to let the company know that they let you down with that letter. Maybe if they got enough complaints or some very public ones, they might get rid of the letter, and just give people a simple warning, or perhaps links to outside sites that offer general advice to get through customs quickly.

Don´t. You are not the first victim of US entry denial due to this letter. Yet, THS continues to distribute it, knowing very well that the letter is not only legally nonbinding or applicable to the US INA legislation but that showing it to the immigration will guarantee entry denial.

Can you hold THS responsible for your expenses regarding the waiver?

Seems not in relation to a waiver